School is coming to an end, and summer is officially upon us.  Lots of us have just spent the last two months helping our children with schoolwork. I know we are all happy to be done with that!  While academics are important, think about spending the lazy days of summer teaching your kids something equally as important – life skills.

It became apparent to me while spending so much time with my children over the last two months that there were certain life skills that they were lacking. Have you noticed the same thing? Here are some ideas of basic life skills that you can teach your children before they head back to school:

  1. Turning off the lights when exiting a room. Simple I know, but somehow the Trace Adkins song, “Every Light in the House” plays through my head daily. If this is a problem in your house, it can be solved with patience and persistence.  In the beginning, it may take many verbal cues from you to remind them to turn it off. If that isn’t enough, try rewards or consequences until it becomes a habit.
  2. Picking up after yourself (including trash and dishes). So many parents do these skills for their children because it is more efficient, you do a better job, you get tired of asking over and over, etc. But it’s important to have them work through the kinks of these skills before they go to college, get a roommate, get married, and start a family. Their future roommates will thank you! Again, many verbal cues, rewards, or consequences may be necessary to build this skill.
  3. Self-entertainment that doesn’t include electronics. Can your child entertain themselves while not connected to a device? Being bored is a valuable tool. Being able to come up with some way to occupy time without the instant gratification of a device will help child learn to self-activate, manage their time, and focus.
  4. Doing the laundry. Adding the responsibility of doing laundry can help your child focus and plan.  He needs to act proactively and do the laundry if he wants to have clean clothes for the next few days. And he has to plan time to fold and put them away unless he wants them to be a wrinkled mess. It also helps him practice the skill of focusing. After all, he has to remember to put the clothes in the dryer once he washes them. If you have younger children, get them to help you sort clothes into batches, match socks, or fold towels.
  5. Implementing a chore chart. Often, parents try to do chores for their kids because it’s easier. This is the time to teach them how chores should be completed so you can start holding them accountable to a chore chart. It’s important for kids to do chores, so they can become contributing member of the household and start learning responsibility. Post a list of everyone’s chores (including mom’s and dad’s), so there’s no confusion about who is responsible for what. Less debating equals less stress. Download my list of age-appropriate chores to get started.
  6. Managing money. This might be a good time to implement an allowance for the chores that are completed. Or maybe your older children are helping care for your younger children while you are working since so many summer camps are closed. A child needs to learn and practice how to make decisions about spending money.
  7. Healthy sleep habits. Getting the right amount of consistent sleep is one of the best ways to increase your brain’s function and be a more productive, organized person. When you go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, your body develops a natural rhythm that helps your brain function at its best.

To help your child go to bed at the same time each night, consider taking away electronics or shutting off the internet at a certain time each night.  Getting them out of bed can really be a challenge, especially as they become teenagers.  This may sound silly, but there are college students who still rely on their parents to wake them up each day. Now is the time to get your child to set an alarm and get up on their own. One method to consider is utilizing different alarm clocks.

  1. Clocky is an alarm clock that rolls around the room until you find it and turn it off
  2. The Puzzle Alarm Clock requires you to complete puzzles correctly before it will go silent
  3. The Dumbbell Clock won’t rest until you complete 30 reps
  4. The Sonic Alert Alarm clock is super loud and also shakes your bed
  5. The FreakyAlarm App will only shut off it you do a series of math problems
  6. And my favorite the singNshock alarm that will shock you if you hit snooze
  1. Basic cooking skills. Many of us have been spending more time in the kitchen and this can be a great time to learn fractions and how to follow directions. It’s also a great opportunity to teach your kids how to make simple meals, such as a grilled cheese sandwich. Can your kids peel an orange or scramble eggs?

These may not sound related to organizing, but they are! By instilling these habits, your child will practice the executive function skills of planning, focus, self-activation, working-memory, time management, and you guessed it – organization!

Though you can teach an old dog new tricks, the earlier a person learns these skills the better! By teaching these skills now, we are giving our children a procedure they can follow without having an adult cue. These skills are essential for a productive, organized life.